Democratic, Republican parties go lowbrow with mailers in last week of campaigning

11/01/2016 10:16 AM

The Kentucky Democratic Party and the Republican Party of Kentucky are slinging the last batch of mud in the last week of campaigning in an effort to make sure their candidates come out on top on Election Day.

Both political parties have gone negative in the waning days of the campaigns, with Democrats targeting former Democratic lawmaker turned Republican Rep. Jim Gooch, of Providence, and Republican Rep. David Hale, of Wellington, as the GOP is targeting Rep. Cluster Howard, of Jackson.

Democratic consultant Matt Erwin, who is not working on any state House races this cycle, told Pure Politics even though many voters do not like negative campaigning, it is effective among those same people.

“It’s been shown time and again that the same people that don’t like negative campaigning, which a lot of times older demographics don’t like negative campaigning, but those same people, negative campaigning is actually most effective,” Erwin said.

“At the end of a race going negative a lot of times it’s trying to freeze things as they are right now,” he continued. “It can show that campaigns are feeling confident, but also the flip side of that sometimes someone wants to go real hard at the candidate — want to leave it all on the field. If you’ve got something against your opponent now is the time to pull the trigger — now or never.”

RPK launched a mailer this week targeting the morals of Howard, who won the 91st House District seat by 14 votes two years ago.

In the mailer, pictured below, the RPK references a DUI arrest from 2011, in which the now-Democratic state Representative said he had consumed “around 10 beers,” according to the arrest citation.

Howard had “no comment” when contacted by Pure Politics about the mailer and the DUI arrest in 2011.

KDP spokesman Daniel Lowry responded to the mailer in a statement saying Howard “has a great deal of respect for the law.”

“This is an obvious personal attack on something that happened several years ago — long before Rep. Howard was a lawmaker,” Lowry said. “The Republicans are really stretching to find anything negative on Rep. Howard if they have to go back this far.”

Howard faces former Rep. Toby Herald in the Nov. 8 election.

Democrats on the attack

The KDP is taking a page out of the Republican playbook in a close race in 12th House District in the western portion of the state, attacking Gooch over an incident at the 2014 Southern Legislative Conference in which Gooch threw out a pair of women’s underwear onto a table in front of other Kentucky lawmakers and staff members, including two women who sued a now former Democratic lawmaker for sexual harassment.

A direct mailer from the Democratic Party casts Gooch as “hoochy goochy,” attacking the Republican lawmaker over his morals as well as votes cast in the General Assembly.

RPK spokesman Tres Watson acknowledged that Republicans had tried the tactic before without success.

“This attack didn’t work when Republicans used it in 2014 and it won’t work for Democrats this year,” Watson said in a statement. “Jim Gooch is a strong voice for the people of his district, not a political party, and we look forward to having him back in Frankfort next session.”

Gooch faces Webster County Judge Executive Jim Townsend in next week’s election.

The Democratic Party is also targeting first-year GOP Rep. David Hale after the lawmaker used state postage to send campaign mail pieces as first reported by Pure Politics in September.

Democrats are casting Hale as “just like Governor Bevin,” saying the Wellington lawmaker is abusing his power.

“With so many families hurting across Kentucky, we can’t afford Hale’s wasteful abuse of our taxpayer dollars,” the mailer targeting voters in the 74th House District says.

At the time of the incident, Hale told Pure Politics that the stationary for the mail pieces were purchased at his own expense, and he wrote a check to reimburse the state for the cost of the postage used.

Furthermore, Hale apologized for his “mistake,” saying he would never knowingly violate the law.

Hale faces James Davis, an attorney from Mount Sterling, in the election.


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